Brainiac Corner with Camille Fournier

Posted by VividCortex on Aug 13, 2015 11:13:00 AM

The Brainiac Corner is a format where we talk with some of the smartest minds in the system, database, devops, and IT world. If you have opinions on pirates, or anything else related, please don’t hesitate to contact us.


Today we interview Camille Fournier, the current the CTO at Rent the Runway. Follow her on twitter @skamille.

How did you get from stork to brainiac (i.e. what do you do today and how did you get there)?

I’m currently the CTO of Rent the Runway, a company that rents designer dresses and accessories. My journey into tech is a familiar one; enjoyed computers as a kid, decided that computer science would be a smart area to go into based on the growth of personal computing in the 80s and early 90s, and been happy with it ever since. I ended up at Rent the Runway after a long period at Goldman Sachs doing various software engineering for internal distributed systems. I came to Rent the Runway because I wanted a change, I wanted to try out the startup world and I wanted the opportunity to get into more of a leadership role, and of course I thought that the business had huge potential to change the fashion world. 4 years and 4X team growth later, all of that has happened, and it’s been a rollercoaster and an amazing learning experience.

What is in your group’s technology stack?

We’re relatively conservative. Java (micro)services, MySQL, MongoDB, Redis, RabbitMQ, Ruby that does not touch the database directly, Memcache, JavaScript (Backbone+React), and of course the Objective-C/Swift stuff for our app. We also have Vertica, Scala, and Python for our data processing layer.

Who would win in a fight between ninjas and pirates? Why?

Probably Ninjas unless it’s a ship of Ninjas vs a ship of Pirates, in which case I’m going to bet on the Pirates.

Which is a more accurate state of the world, #monitoringsucks or #monitoringlove?

We’re trending towards #monitoringlove but not there yet. I think people want magical monitoring tools that will eliminate their need to think, and that will never happen, but at least we’re able to get more useful insights now than we have in the recent past.

In six words or less, what are the biggest challenges your organization faces?

Move fast, don’t break too much.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve ever received?

When you go after what you want, you get what’s in the way.

What principles guide your expertise in your given domain?

In the domain of technical architecture: don’t overbuild too early, write unit tests, think about the nature of the data and functionality you’re working with and scale on the axis that make sense for the evolution of your business.

In the domain of management and leadership: Be brave, be kind, sometimes the kindest thing is to be brave and tell people the hard truth, remember that people are fellow human beings and everyone is living their own story so try not to overlay your own story on top of them.

In both: Spend the time to get really clear with yourself about what you want, write it down, say it a few different ways. A narrative is needed both for leading people and for leading technology, and the clearer your narrative is the faster you can move and the better the outcome will be.

What is your vision for system administration in 5 years?

It will still exist, and more companies will realize the value of hiring people who actually have expertise in that area. But the people with expertise will also learn that they really do have to meet the rest of the team at least halfway, or the developers will just do a bad job without their input.

Recent Posts

Posts by Topic

see all